For the second year in a row, Shawnee Mission Northwest student Reis Miller has won first place in SkillsUSA state competition for his culinary prowess.
With winning first place, the young chef, who is now a junior and is learning culinary skills at Broadmoor Bistro in the SMSD Center for Academic Achievement, can compete at the national competition June 23-28 in Louisville, Kent. Competing nationally gives him a shot at winning more than $100,000 in scholarship funds.
“I was shocked, to be real honest,” Miller said of winning first place his sophomore year. “You get a rush of adrenaline and you’re like wait, what just happened?
“This year, it was a pretty incredible experience. I wasn’t expecting to win first place, but when I did, I was very humbled and just grateful for everything that I’ve been able to do and the opportunities I’ve been given.”
Besides successful completion of a written test, the competition also requires students to make a three-course meal for the judges. His award-winning menu: A crunchy chicken salad with romaine lettuce, honey mustard vinaigrette and fresh veggies, a chicken potato chowder soup with tarragon, and for his entree, sauteed chicken breast with mushroom supreme sauce, honey-glazed carrots and roasted asparagus.
Miller said his second round at SkillsUSA was fairly incident-free, unlike last year at nationals when he was searing two pieces of chicken, one of which he burned while the other came out perfectly.
Miller said he’s thankful for mentorship from the chefs at Broadmoor Bistro, including Justin Hoffman, Robert Brassard and Jonathon Dallen. Miller joined the bistro program in fall 2017.
“They’ve been a great inspiration for me; they’ve just been helping me out ever since I came into the program,” he said. “They’ve helped me along the entire way, so I’m incredibly grateful for them.”
He is also thankful for his father, Matt Miller, and also Brett Atkinson, owner and chef of the food truck Wilma’s Good Food, where Miller picked up more skills in the kitchen.
“Both my father and him worked together, and I also worked with them on the food truck, and they’re the ones that got me into cooking,” Miller said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here at the moment.”
After finishing high school, Miller plans to travel to Europe for six months and work side by side with European chefs, learning their cuisine and culture through a culinary staging program.